One of the most common questions I’m asked is the best way to find a Dungeons & Dragons game to join. The simple answer is if you’re the person that wants to play the most, then you’re the DM. Take it upon yourself to organize a game.
D&D has gained a retro appeal. I find most people are willing to try the game just to say they’ve played. If you’re looking to build a long-running, weekly campaign, you’ll need to avoid a sporadic player base. To weed out those uncommitted individuals or players who might not fit in your game, invite your friends to create characters and make that the entire purpose of your first session with the goal of meeting up again in the near future. Make it clear in this first meeting what setting your game will take place in. Some people like to run jovial light hearted games, while others like myself prefer to do serious epics. These expectations typically clear out those that just want to play for nerd cred.
The most important first step to setting up a successful, long lasting campaign is creating a well-rounded player base. Odd numbers make for decisive groups since discussions are settled quickly when players are forced to pick sides. Three players is the best for a tight-knit group focused on progressing your story. Five also works well, though they are more likely to build teams within the group. For your first game, try to keep the numbers small. It can be difficult inviting friends without them inviting others, but most people are familiar enough with board games that you can simply state your game is only for a certain number of players, and the extras will bow out.
Next, you’ll want to consider what kind of players you need to tell your story. You will most likely invite your close friends who have already expressed interest. Consider what types of players they are to create a balanced game for your performers, scouts and gamers.
Performers enjoy the roleplaying elements of the game. They define their characters through interactions with others and NPCs. Performers will sacrifice statistics and the best abilities for flavor and immersion. They help bring other players out of their shells and provide them with opportunities to advance their characters. They help drive plots but only when they are directly involved. In combat, they can act sporadic, placing themselves in danger in order to fulfil a mental picture. Provide them with alternatives to direct combat, like terrain interactions. They can easily dominate non-combat encounters, so be vigilant that other players aren't left out of important decisions. Performer dominated groups enjoy single villains with a cast of recurring characters.
Scouts are always eager to get to the next set piece. They want to meet interesting people and see terrible monsters but don't necessarily want to directly interact with them. They drive conversations when presented with puzzles and moral choices. The world is a picture you paint for them, and they want to absorb all the lore you can come up with. They will also be your biggest sticklers for continuity. In combat, scouts can move unbearably slow, unsure of the proper ability or spell to cast, often consulting the group. They often take jack of all trades, master of none traits so that they can be useful in every situation. Inevitably, they become easily frustrated when they roll poorly or are out performed by the others. Give scouts additional roles like group treasurer or cartographer to keep them engaged. Scout heavy groups enjoy open maps and sandbox style gameplay.
Gamers have experience with mechanics and statistics and will work them to their benefit. They are here to slay monsters and impress others with their characters’ skills. They expect clear quests with a decent plot. They are decisive in combat as well as in their interactions, often making them impatient with Scouts and Performers. They can easily become obsessed with micromanaging other player characters, attempting to help them select abilities and level up. More than anything, Gamers expect balanced combat with interesting mechanics. Groups made primarily of gamers enjoy monster of the week type structures with an overarching plot that is discovered along the way